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Eternity Road

In Fiction, Writing on July 11, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Rain beat the windshield.  I clicked the lever up a notch, speeding the wipers in a futile attempt to keep up with the sheets of water pouring down.  The two-lane back roads were bare aside from myself, so I put on my high beams.  Nothing to see.  Even the painted on lines were fleeing the cracked pavement of the road.  There were shells of old barns and farm houses, looming shadows blending into the night sky on the horizon.  The last house with lights on was at least 45 minutes ago, just before I turned onto this road at the sign that read “Eternity Road.”  According to the tiny green sign standing between the pavement and the never ending corn fields, it was 60 more miles to the highway.

My eyelids were getting heavy.  As I felt a yawn beginning, I glanced down to the console to find the button for the radio.  I barely saw him in time, forgetting the radio and gripping the wheel to swerve and miss the figure standing lop-sided at the edge of the road.  I regained control and slowed to a stop several feet ahead.  I was shaken and needed a minute to slow my heart, catch my breath.  My eyes darted to the rearview mirror but the figure was gone.  I don’t remember a thud or a bump.  But it happened so fast… I didn’t hit him.  I did miss him, right?

I didn’t even feel the rain as I stood in the open door of my car, squinting against the darkness, trying desperately to see a moving shadow.  “Hello?”  I called.  Silence.  I took a few steps toward the empty space where he had been.  “Hello?  Are you okay?  Are you there?”  Were my eyes just playing tricks on me?

“I’m here…” A raspy voice forced out, barely audible over the rain thumping the roof of my car.  I turned quickly, startled, and saw the shadowy man standing by the passenger back door.

“Thank God,” I breathed.  “Are you okay?  Visibility is, like, nonexistent in this weather.”

He waved a hand as if to dismiss my excuse.  “Please…”he forced out.  “I just need some help.”

I looked around at our surroundings and wondered suddenly where he had come from, where he was going.  “What do you need?”

“I just need out of here.”  He was slumped against the side of my car, obviously exhausted.  I was sure he was soaked, as I already was and had only been in the rain a fraction of the time he must have been.

“I’m heading west, to hit the interstate.  There should be a gas station or a rest stop or something.  Is that okay?”

“Anything is okay, compared to this.”

We both slid into my car, shivering from our wet clothes.  I put the heat on.  “You can adjust those vents on your side,” I told him as I glanced over and finally got a look at him in the glow of the interior light.  “Oh Jesus!”

His left eye was black and swollen shut.  A cut near his right eyebrow left a trail of blood down his cheek.  His nose was tilted to the left and his lips were cracked and split.  He opened his mouth slowly to take a breath and even his teeth were chipped away and broken.  He reached up to feel his face and sighed.  “It’s been one hell of a night.”

“I’d say… So, uh, where are you headed?”

“Anywhere.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“I’m very tired.”

“Right.  Yeah, of course.  It’s just so dead out here…”

His body tensed.  “Why are you so curious?”

“I’m just… I don’t know.  Weird night.  Just wondering what your story is, I guess.”

“I don’t know my story.”

Odd.  I didn’t know how to respond, so I just stayed quiet and moved to put the car in drive.  In a flash, his bloody, dirty hand was around my wrist.  “You’re familiar.  You did this, didn’t you? What kind of sick game are you playing?”  His voice was gaining energy and his grip tightened.

“I’m not playing any game.  Man, I’m just trying to drive us both out of here.”

“Where are you trying to take me?  What’s the end game here?!”  He was becoming frantic.  I could feel the situation turning more and more unsafe by the second.  I tried to slip my arm from his grasp but he tightened again.  “No, no, no.  I won’t let this happen again.  I’m done playing.”  Before I could react he let go of my wrist, moved his hand to the back of my head, and slammed my face into the steering wheel.

A flash of hot pain shot through my face and I could feel blood immediately begin to trickle from my nose.  “Dude!  What the hell?!”  I opened my door and slid back into the cold rain, holding my face.  My vision was blurry and I was in shock.  There was another sharp pain in the back of my head, then I shoved to the ground.  I opened my eyes to see the shadow of his foot directed right at my face and had time to flinch before feeling the contact.  I rolled and crawled, trying to get away.  Suddenly the blows stopped.  I heard my car rev and pull away.  I managed to crawl out of the road into the flooded field before losing consciousness


Cold.  So cold.  I tried to open my eyes but couldn’t see.  I moved to rub them and felt intense pain.  One eye was somewhat functional and I could see blood covering my hands.  I sat up slowly, wincing at the volts of pain shooting through my ribs and back.  What happened?  Where was I?  How did I get here?  Why was I in so much pain?  Who would do this to me?  I searched my brain but everything was just an empty, black haze.  My head was pounding and my clothes were covered in mud.  I looked around, realizing it was nearly night fall.  I was surrounded by murky weeds.  There was a small road to my right and I thought I could almost see lights in the distance.  I needed to find a house, or a person.  I knew I needed medical attention for what I imagined was at least 4 broken bones between my face and torso.

Movement was agonizing, but I knew I couldn’t stay where I was, so I slowly began to trudge and drag myself toward what I hoped was civilization.  I don’t know how long or how far I walked.  The darkness had settled in around me and every house I thought I had found was abandoned.  Just when I couldn’t go any further, when I resigned myself to holing up in a dilapidated shack to die from pneumonia or the pain, I saw a light.  Bouncing along, a hum of a motor.  It’s a car!  Another living, breathing person!  I wanted to jump and yell and throw my arms around to make them see me and flag them down, but I couldn’t get my body to cooperate.  So instead, I stood solemnly, trying just not to fall over, praying for some relief.  But the headlights weren’t slowing and were coming right for me.  At the last second, the car whizzed past, missing me by inches.  I collapsed.  I was exhausted, confused, and I was still stranded.  But then I heard the car pull to a stop.  I slowly drug myself toward it.  I had to catch them.  I could hear someone talking.

“I’m here…” I managed to grumble as I pulled myself off the ground.  I leaned on his car to keep from falling back down and momentarily wondered if he would be angry that a stranger was touching his nice ride with a bloody, dirty body.  “Please…I just need some help.”

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